City’s audit ‘clean,’ no more Third Thursday

First Byline: 
David Purtell - Staff Writer

Barnwell City Council heard the annual auditor's report on the city's finances during the regular meeting March 3.
The city received a "clean opinion" from McGregor and Company LLP, the firm that conducted the audit. A clean opinion means there were no major errors or issues found. The audit covered the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2013.
The city ran a deficit of $308,000 for the year in its general fund - which was planned due to the purchase of a new fire truck. Total revenue for the city's general fund was $2.87 million and expenses equaled $3.19 million. Also, funds were transferred from the water and sewer fund ($90,000) and the special revenues fund ($68,200) to the general fund. And a lease buy back from BB&T bank for the fire truck equaled $349,000.
The biggest expense in the general fund was the Police Department at nearly $1.2 million. At the end of the fiscal year, the city's general fund balance was $1.7 million.
One highlight in the audit is that the city collected $30,000 more in property taxes (($790,000 total) than was budgeted for. The city also received over $100,000 more from business licenses and permits than originally expected. The total collected was $914,000.
The public works fee, which is added to customers' monthly water bills, added $177,000 to the city's revenue stream. It pays for the operating costs of the street department.
In other business:
•April 10 will be Barnwell's Spring Fling on the Circle downtown. There will be another event in the fall, but no more Third Thursdays.
•Zawacki said he is still waiting to get the "OK" from the state Dept. of Commerce to begin the bidding process for the Hagood Avenue water project. He said he will find out whether the city will be awarded a grant for the water project for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd streets area May 19.
•Zawacki said the city needs to bring its potable-water system into the "21st century." Currently, the city uses phone lines to operate the water wells - the lines are rented at a cost of $36,000 a year. A radio system should be purchased to replace the use of phone lines, he said. A digital-radio system would be a one-time purchase, costing around $80,000, and would result in better performance, he said.
•The city's Department of Parks and Recreation will host the state tournament for youth basketball, ages 12 and under, at the high school March 15, Mike Shumaker said.